Industry, government support for NLIS audit

17 Aug, 2006 07:00 PM

CATTLE producers, lobby groups and the WA Government have overwhelmingly supported Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran's announcement of a National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) audit.

The implementation of the NLIS has not been without troubles and the situation reached boiling point last month when the Australian Beef Association (ABA) accused the system of failing.

Cattle Council of Australia (CCA) members disputed ABA's claims and labelled the association "unAustralian".

The ABA accused the system of having 11 million head of phantom cattle on the database.

The CCA said ABA's allegations were irresponsible and untrue.

WA Agriculture Minister Kim Chance has been a strong supporter of the NLIS and an advocate for market traceability.

"The ABA only represents a small percentage of Australian beef producers and NLIS is now very broadly supported by the bulk of the beef industry," Mr Chance said.

"The vast majority of the Australian beef industry supports the need for paddock-to-plate traceability, as do I.

"At the same time I agree with Peter McGauran that if there are problems, then it is in the whole industry's interest to sort these problems out and we certainly encourage the independent audit."

WAFarmers and the Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) have thrown their support behind the audit.

WAFarmers meat section president and CCA acting president Mike Norton welcomed the audit and slammed the ABA's statements.

"The implementation of NLIS has been a massive undertaking by the cattle industry and should not be misrepresented as anything else," he said.

"ABA has never produced written information to support their negative claims, despite repeated requests to do so."

PGA meat and livestock committee chairman Tim D'Arcy admitted WA pastoralists had been troubled by the NLIS, but the industry was working towards a common theme of traceability.

Mr D'Arcy said onerous remarks by the ABA had the potential to damage Australia's reputation and the audit would help clarify any unclear NLIS issues.

"I think most people in WA recognise NLIS is something necessary," he said.

"In the long term it will help us with our international markets."

Mr D'Arcy said the recent bovine Johne's disease (BJD) outbreak in WA was a perfect example of how the NLIS played an important role in tracking stock.

"For the cattle traded in that period it is a matter of tracing them within an hour or two," he said.

When Farm Weekly contacted Mr McGauran's office this week a decision had not been made on which organisation would conduct the audit.

Mr McGauran's office did confirm the mid-October deadline for the audit to be completed would be adhered to.



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